Physics seems to be telling us that it’s possible to simulate the entire universe on a computer smaller than the universe.
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Quantum Gravity and the Hardest Problem in Physics
Hosted by Matt O'Dowd
Written by Matt O'Dowd
Graphics by Luke Maroldi
Assistant Editing and Sound Design by Mike Petrow
Made by Kornhaber Brown (www.kornhaberbrown.com)
If we go along with this crazy seeming notion, how powerful would that computer need to be, and how long would it take. Believe it or not, we can figure this out.I’m not saying the universe is a simulation. I mean it might be – I’m just not saying it. And perhaps it doesn’t make any difference. Even if this is the prime, the original physical universe, rather than somewhere deep in a simulation nest, we can STILL think of our universe’s underlying mechanics as computation. Imagine a universe in which the most elementary components are stripped of all properties besides some binary notion of existence or non-existence. Like, if the tiniest chunks of spacetime, or chunks of quantum fields, or elements in the abstract space of quantum-mechanical states can either be full or empty. These elements interact with their neighbors by a simple set of rules, leading to oscillations, elementary particles, atoms, and ultimately to all of the emergent laws of physics, physical structure, and ultimately the universe.
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